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These Apps Claim to Help You Get Over Jet Lag—But, Do They Work?

Jo Piazza
Managing Editor
August 5, 2014
jet lag cure
jet lag cure

You don’t have time to let exhaustion ruin your vacation. (Photo: Thinkstock)

There is nothing worse than being exhausted on vacation or on a business trip.

Jet lag, caused by the disruption of the body’s circadian rhythms when we travel, affects all of us differently.

Some people become drowsy while others can become irritated, lethargic, or disoriented. Insomnia is often a symptom. Regardless of how jet lag manifests for you, the one thing that is universal is that it can ruin a perfectly lovely vacation.

These days we have apps that seek to solve just about all of the problems in our lives. Jet lag is no exception. The fact is that there is no cure-all for jet lag, but some tricks can get the body clock back on track, and that is what the majority of these apps set out to do.

jet lag cure
jet lag cure

Just enter all of your information into the app and it will help you craft a sleep plan. (Photo: Jet Lag Rooster)

1. Jet Lag Rooster — This simple free app does something you could easily do yourself but you probably wouldn’t take the time to do without it. Jet Lag Rooster first asks for all of the basic information about your upcoming trip — departure city and departure time, arrival city and arrival time. Then it asks about your personal sleep habits. When do you usually go to bed? When do you usually wake up? It takes this info into account and then creates a detailed sleep plan for the next five days with specifics such as, “Avoid light for these two hours before going to sleep at this specific time.” it provides ideal sleeping and waking times for each day, including the times that you should be exposing yourself to light (or avoiding it) in order to reset your body clock. The app isn’t rocket science, but it does a good job of reminding you to do the things you already know you need to do to conquer jet lag.

Related: How to Combat Your Fear of Flying

Do you need to pay for a jet lag app? (Photo: Jet Lag Genie)

2. Jet Lag Genie — For $2.99, the Jet Lag Genie has a lot of the same features as the free Jet Lag Rooster with a few more bells and whistles and a sleeker design. It also crafts a sleep plan for you based on your trip itinerary, but in addition to providing sleep times it gives a recommended melatonin plan. The operating system is a little buggy, and it doesn’t take into account the fact that you may not be able to sleep just an hour after you land at your destination in order to reset your clock. This app doesn’t add enough value to make it worth paying for.

Related: These Awesome Airlines Will Make You Love Flying Again

Entrain lets you keep track of how well it worked for you. (Photo: Entrain)

3. Entrain — If you download one jet lag app, this should be it. Developed by mathematicians at the University of Michigan, Entrain also crafts a schedule for you to expose your body to both light and dark based upon your travel itinerary. The difference in this free app is that the results are based on published scientific results regarding sleep patterns.

This Web page explains how the app works better than any review I have read. 

Entrain really is for the data nerd in all of us. It allows you to submit your sleep data, graph that data, and keep a jet lag diary (which is exactly what you want to do when you find yourself awake in a strange country at 4 am). 

At the end of the day, these apps can help you adjust more quickly to a new time zone, but the onus is still on you to follow their advice. 

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